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11 ways to be a good friend

Edited by Dr. Bev Snyder, Counselor and Coach

Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times….”

Proverbs 18:24 “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

It is sad to see the number of women and men who feel they are walking alone. In a church like ours, where we are practicing to Love Like Jesus, one of the deeper goals is in getting members truly connected to one another in a friendship that will lead to growth, encouragement, and a richer life experience. Unfortunately, the fast-paced life we lead today often interferes with such growth between individuals.

We need each other. We were created for relationship with one another. As with every other worthy goal in our lives, it takes effort. We don’t just say we want to be healthier. We watch what we eat and implement exercise to make every effort to achieve that goal. We don’t just say we want to build wealth. We monitor our spending, make a plan, and stay diligent with debt reduction and adhering to a budget.

Likewise, we cannot just say we want friends, or we’re lonely and don’t have any friends. We must be intentional in being a good friend, developing strong connections with others, and nurturing both old and new relationships.

Here are a few tips to help:

1. Let it go. The relationship is more important than being right. You cannot be in relationship with anyone – friend, coworker, parent, child – without encountering conflict. There will be times when you have been legitimately wronged. Your friend may say the wrong thing, handle a situation the wrong way, or be unfair. However, the most important thing you can do in a relationship is to let go of the need to be validated or right. If the friendship is important, then let the grievance go. Forgive quickly and often. You’ll both need that grace throughout the friendship!

2. Be honest. When your advice is solicited, be honest. If your friend wants to know how the dress looks and it isn’t flattering on her body shape, tell her in a loving, kind, and honest way. If they want to know what you think about the new boyfriend, job opportunity, or book idea, commit to open and honest communication. True friends are those that can be honest with one another, sharpening each other through real feedback. This is where we grow. (Note: You must be the type of friend who can also receive honesty, as well!)

3. Agree to disagree. You won’t agree on every subject. Yes, there are likely similarities that brought you together in the first place, but we are uniquely and wonderfully made. We have a variety of life experiences. Those factors will mean that we will likely disagree from time to time. Learn to disagree in a healthy way. Learn to respect others’ viewpoints, even when you disagree.

4. Develop the art of truly listening. Put down the phone. Don’t think about what you’ll say next or where you need to be or the load of clothes in the dryer or the homework you’ll have to help with later. Be present in the moment. Truly hear with your spiritual ears what your friend is saying. Sometimes, the art of truly listening and ensuring your friend feels heard is the most supportive thing you can offer, and it can be life-changing!

5. Make time for what matters. Be intentional. We are all busy. We all have lots going on. We all are balancing carpool, homework, family demands, work-life, and ministry demands. Those who have long-lasting friendships are the ones who take the time to nurture those friendships. Place the phone call. Send a birthday card in the mail. Schedule an outing. Invite a friend over for dinner. It is very hard to be friends with those who don’t take the time to make the friendship important in their lives.